YardMap Citizen Science Project: Front-End Evaluation

January 1st, 2010 | EVALUATION

The YardMap Network (see www.yardmap.org) is an NSF-funded citizen science project at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which will allow participants to map their habitat management and carbon neutral practices in backyards and parks, interact socially within the network, and display their activities and carbon footprints in an online platform such as Google maps. In 2010, the Institute for Learning Innovation (ILI), in collaboration with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, conducted a front-end evaluation to assess the following evaluation questions: 1. What are gardeners', and birders', citizen scientists', and novices' needs, motivations, desires and interests in relation to YardMap? 2. How do participants react to the proposed YardMap and social networking sites? What do they find interesting, and how can this information help with the planning process? 3. Which components of YardMap are people most interested in and why? 4. To what extent do participants think they'd participate in the social networking aspect of the site? 5. What are the perceived benefits and barriers to participation... a. Regarding the social networking features b. Regarding the basic YardMap mapping application 6. Are certain types of people more or less likely to participate in YardMap in general, and more specifically in social networking? Methods: A mixed methods approach was used, including 1) focus groups (n=36), 2) an experimentally designed online survey with a national birder/gardener audience (n=3,469), 3) follow-up phone interviews with a subset from the online survey (n=22) and 4) stand-alone phone interviews (n=22). Data & Analysis: Qualitative analysis included noting themes and general patterns that emerged. Analysis of the online survey data included chi-square, t-test, ANOVA and multiple regressions, among others. The large online survey sample size precluded complete coding of open-ended responses, so a subset of 150 respondents was randomly selected for open-ended coding. Results: Front-end results to be highlighted including the following: Interest in participation - this was driven by a variety of reasons: an interest in birding (prior interest), being able to improve their yards (practical), enjoying participating in citizen science projects (prior experience) and connecting with others (social). Design feedback - participants provided valuable feedback about all major areas of design, including the overall look and feel, use of online tutorials, level of detail desired and major drawing features.Barriers to participation - the two main perceived barriers included concern about privacy as the site included information about their houses, and technology, especially around social networking Conservation information - participants were open to the idea of including environmental information, but wanted to know how it specifically tied to birds. Implications: This study is relevant to the field in that it Provides a model for evaluators to gather feedback about a proposed website, including tapping into local and national audiences Tests a model for engaging older audiences in social networking, which is of interest to many museums and educational programs. Includes information about which aspects of web-based programs are most interesting to older audiences. This report includes the interview protocol and survey instruments used in the study.



Team Members

Steven Yalowitz, Evaluator, Institute for Learning Innovation
Cornell University, Contributor


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 0917487
Funding Amount: 1483710

Related URLs

The YardMap Network: Social Networking for Community Science


Audience: Adults | Evaluators | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Education and learning science | Life science
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Front-End | Interview Protocol | Research and Evaluation Instruments | Survey
Environment Type: Citizen Science Programs | Media and Technology | Public Programs | Websites | Mobile Apps | Online Media